AUSTIN, Texas—After four years of promoting literacy initiatives statewide, First Lady Laura Bush will open the first university-based Texas Family Literacy Center April 27 at 11 a.m. during a private ceremony in The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education.
“We want Texas to become the national model for strengthening literacy programs, and this Center will help enhance the knowledge and instructional resources available to literacy educators statewide,” said Dr. Manuel J. Justiz, dean of UT Austin’s College of Education.
“Our new facility will work directly with the educators who now provide services to parents and children, including Even Start, Migrant Education and so many of the state’s school-based family literacy programs,” he added.
The Texas Family Literacy Center caps the First Lady’s Family Literacy Initiative for Texas, which has awarded about $600,000 to 30 independent literacy programs æ part of a partnership between Laura Bush, the Washington, D.C.-based Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and Texas literacy providers.
With another series of individual $20,000 grants under consideration for the year 2000, the initiative has helped lay the groundwork to address Gov. George Bush’s goal that all Texans will be reading on level by the third grade and remain on level thereafter.
Out of 3.9 million students in Texas pre-K-12 public schools, more than one-half million children have limited English proficiency, according to the Texas Education Agency. About 483,000 students within this figure are Spanish language speakers.
“UT Austin’s new Texas Family Literacy Center, which benefited from a startup grant from Austin’s Tapestry Foundation, will help strengthen services available to all families, while featuring a strong commitment to the many children and adults acquiring literacy in a second language,” said Peggy Freedson González, one of two center co-directors. She is a Harvard University doctoral candidate and former bilingual teacher who has conducted literacy research in the United States and Latin America.
“We know that parents want the best for their children,” explained Dr. Lorie Ochoa, the other center co-director, who offers extensive experience with university and public school accountability systems. She is a former Texas school teacher and education professor at UT Pan American in Edinburg.
“There is now a growing consensus as to how to best help children achieve their full literacy potential, and we want to help parents themselves to become better readers. A variety of organizations have been working diligently to address this issue,” said Ochoa. “This Center aims at becoming a statewide resource for all of those committed to family literacy.”
The duo will spearhead these efforts from a base in the College of Education’s Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts.
The latter is directed by Dr. Sharon Vaughn, the Mollie Villeret Davis Professor of Learning Disabilities, whose internationally recognized scholarship has focused on teaching students with learning and reading problems.
For additional information, please contact Chuck Halloran in the dean’s office, UT Austin College of Education, at (512) 471-7255, or Robert Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, at (512) 471-3151.
Because of seating limitations, the event will be attended only by a limited number of invitees and media; it is not open to the general public.